Assistant Professor, Computer Science and EngineeringChile
Adam Czajka, assistant professor in the department of computer science and engineering, focuses his research on biometrics and security. Czajka recently collaborated with Professor Domingo Mery of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC) to find methods to detect unknown objects used to falsify biometric recognition.
Attackers can use devices such as cosmetic contact lenses or paper printouts for false iris recognition when impersonating an individual or concealing one’s identity. While successful algorithms exist to identify these known types of objects used in an attack, the issue of recognizing unknown objects remains unsolved. Czajka has spent 15 years researching and creating solutions for this problem. Iris recognition is a key identifier in important places with high security needs, which only increases its appeal to potential attackers.
“If you have something that is accurate and fast, then, of course, it is exposed more to attacks,” Czajka says.
His partnership with Mery was made possible through the Luksic Family Collaboration Grant, which seeks to encourage collaborations between Notre Dame faculty and colleagues from PUC.
Through this collaboration, Czajka and Mery were able to create an algorithm that can effectively adapt to unknown false iris images, and they plan to continue their work together.
As for the greater Notre Dame community, Czajka sees the importance of bringing awareness to the availability of international partnerships.
”I’m not sure how many people at Notre Dame are aware that they can ask not only for money, but to facilitate this kind of collaboration,” he says.
IIaria Schnyder Von Wartensee
Ford Family Research Assistant Professor, Kellogg InstituteRome
Ilaria Schnyder Von Wartensee is a research assistant professor with the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Since 2017, she has been working on a five-year Humanitarian Corridor Research Project sponsored by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Ford Program in Human Development. The research focuses on one particular corridor, extending from Ethiopia to Italy. In January of 2017, the Italian Bishops’ Conference and three NGOs, Caritas Italy, Migrantes, and Sant’Egidio, signed an agreement with the Italian government to introduce a safe passage for 500 Eritreans, South Sudanese and Somalis (Christians and Muslims) to resettle from Ethiopian refugee camps to communities in Italy.
Schnyder’s research will analyze and evaluate the integration experience of the 500 refugees into Italian society over a period of five years.
“Our research will shed light on the wider context of the role of religion, faith and dignity in one of the most pressing political and social challenges of our times, namely international migration,” comments Schnyder.
“The role of accompaniment, the reality of encounter between refugees and their Catholic hosts, and the general cultural context, is of special interest to us.”
Since November of 2017, approximately 150 refugees arrived to Italian shores in separate flights. Schnyder, together with Caritas and Sant’Egidio volunteers, is accompanying them from Ethiopia to Italy, meeting them in the refugee camps, and witnessing their pre-departure cultural orientation. Upon arrival to Italy, refugees are located and welcomed into local communities, families, churches, schools, and dioceses. Schnyder, as part of her research, will follow them during their integration period, through a variety of narratives and daily experiences of both beneficiaries and communities in different geographical contexts.
Schnyder says this is something possible only in small municipalities or towns, whereas bigger cities, such as Rome, are more likely to be distant although more welcoming to refugees. The project is taking her all over Italy to meet the communities and interview the people involved.
Director of Minor in Resiliency and Sustainability of Engineering SystemsNew Zealand
A team of sixteen undergraduate students spent one week over the summer of 2018 in New Zealand, inspecting historic buildings for earthquake vulnerabilities and potential economic impacts to the local communities. The trip was led by Kevin Walsh from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, along with researchers from the University of Auckland and the University of Otago. Both students and researchers worked together to provide critical data to various stakeholders in New Zealand so that leaders can make informed decisions on enhancing their community’s resilience.
The short-term faculty-student collaboration opportunity was funded by The Insider Project, a grant facilitated by Notre Dame International. The Insider Project is a framework for mobile, agile, ad hoc study trips, seminars and research abroad. The initiatives are small, short-term, faculty-led groups organized around faculty research agendas and site-specific opportunities for global education.